Yes, we actually saw koolaid in the market of Bartica, Guyana. I can't believe that is a big seller here!
We made the 270 mile trip from French Guiana to British Guyana, skipping Suriname in record time. That said, we barely were able to get to the mouth of the Essequibo before we lost the light. Normally Mike doesn't mind coming into harbors at night, it seems like it happens more often than not, but in this case we were happy we weren't just an hour later. 10 miles out from the river the water depth is only about 10-15 feet deep. There isn't a channel coming in to the river, instead, just to make it interesting, the local fisherman have buried piles into the ocean bed and strung fishing nets across them. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to where they put the multiple piles, so it took some zig zagging to get in. We were very happy we didn't have to do that in the dark. Even with a spotlight, some of the piles only clear the water by a few feet. 10 miles of sitting on the bow, creeping in with the spotlight continually sweeping would have been very tedious. Alternatively, since there was only a little chop, we could have anchored 10 miles out at sea and waited for the dawn, but we really didn't want to bob around out there all night. Fortunately, dumb luck had us zig zagging at dusk and anchored just as the light diminished.
The Essequibo is the third largest river in South America, so it was busier than the Maroni. The Maroni is completely lined with Mangrove trees, so we only saw one or two houses on the river edge. Conversely the Essequibo has sandy beaches and there are quite a few nice homes and small villages on the river front. Thirty miles up the river at the confluence of the Essequibo and the Mazaruni sits the multi cultural gold mining town of Bartica. We were the only sailboat in the area and quite a novelty with several people coming out to visit us by boat. Yacht's don't bring much money into the area, so friendly people don't have ulterior motives for being friendly, they are just curious. Bartica is really the wild west with Chinese, Brazilian, Amerindian Indians and local Guyanese working the nearby gold mines. Every other business trades gold and even the supermarket will take gold as payment. We even got a little gold fever and traded in some Euros for gold the kids got to smelt down themselves. As you walk down the street you may have a tricked out Honda pass you by, followed by an ATV vehicle, followed by a cow. Anything and everything goes. Everyone is friendly. The Brazilians love the kids as they try to use their few Portuguese words and the Guyanese fist bump the boys and tell them jokes in Creole that they cannot understand, but they politely smile and nod their heads. English is the official language, but there is a flurry of other languages heard.
On the sailboat we are limited to deep water that has been charted and in the dinghy we usually don't venture more than a few miles away. To really get into the jungle we hired a guide and boat and went up about 20 miles towards the Mazaruni headwaters. As the river narrowed we went through rapids and by swirling whirlpools of muddy water. We skirted the edge of the rainforest and eventually ventured in, beached the boat, and took a walk deeper in the forest. We followed a creek up to a waterfall with cascading reddish colored (from the tannins) water tumbling down over the rocks. It looked like we were swimming in tea. With a guide we were able to follow his lead and climb through the falls, something we wouldn't have attempted on our own. Following our footsteps back out we saw more Blue Morphos and our first jungle cat. Not lucky enough to have seen a jaguar, but a smaller Ocelot, the only other jungle cat in the area.
Before leaving Guyana we made one more stop up the Essequibo and anchored off a small resort that didn't have any guests. We had the run of the resort amenities and the lovely little beach to ourselves for a few days. In the morning we took kayak rides along the backwater sloughs and watched toucans, macaws and other parrots in the upper canopy. At night we listened to hundreds of parrots returning to roost on the islands.
Tomorrow we will say good bye to the Guyana's and we will start to head north towards Tobago, 300 miles away.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron